New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) Their spirited showing against England has given the so-called minnows the Netherlands a shot in the arm in the World Cup. Now, they won’t be taken lightly by the West Indies, who they play here Monday in a Group B encounter.
The West Indies, burdened by legacy and injuries, cannot afford to write the Dutch off, as many might have done before.
The Dutch have only four professional players in their side and they proved a handful for England by piling up a massive 292 before going down by six wickets in Nagpur.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is wary of the European side and reluctant to call them minnows.
The Caribbean side has been ravaged by injuries, with their key all-rounder Dwayne Bravo being the latest to be ruled out of the World Cup after he damaged his knee ligament during the match against South Africa at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Thursday.
The loss of Bravo must be shattering for the West Indies, who had been confident of going far in the tournament. Once the dominators of the game, winning the Cup in 1975 and 1979, they are struggling to keep pace with others now.
If their loss against South Africa in the opening game is any indication, then the West Indies have a lot to ponder. Though not tipped to beat one of the favourites, they crumbled on a good batting track after the heroics of young Darren Bravo and the useful contribution of his half-brother Dwayne down the order.
Captain Darren Sammy later admitted that they should have made at least 270 plus instead of 222 as they were well-placed till the 40th over.
Bowling is the West Indies’ weaker link. Though left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn and fast bowler Kemar Roach were effective in parts, they were certainly not as penetrable as South Africa’s three spinners on a track that assisted slow bowlers.
Therefore, the West Indies batsmen have to give their bowlers more runs to defend. Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Darren certainly have it in them to help the side get a big total.
The newly-laid pitch at Kotla is no longer an unknown factor and Gibson feels that familiarity with the conditions gives them an edge over the Netherlands.
“Perhaps the familiarity with the conditions will help us. It remained a pretty good wicket throughout Friday’s game. We are playing on the same wicket and that will pose some challenges as well. We are aware now what the wicket might offer, our thinking in terms of team has to reflect that,” Gibson said Saturday.
The time has come for the West Indies to prove that they belong to the big league and Gibson wants his team to do just that.
“Our fortunes of late do not suggest that we are a big team. But we still believe that we are a big team and we are here to prove that,” he said.
“We have won two World Cups in the past and we were in the final in 1983 and semi-finals in 1996, so we have history on our side in the competition. Our players have got a lot of self-belief that they can prove to the world that we are still more than a capable nation.”
The Dutch, on the other hand, will be out to prove a point to the International Cricket Council (ICC), that its decision to trim the number of teams in the next edition is a retrogade step and is not in the interest of the associate member countries.
“We had a good performance against England and we hope continue to put up a good performances and make a statement in the park rather than sitting here and saying it’s wrong,” Dutch skipper Peter Borren said.
“The 2015 edition is four years away, but I think the associates bring a lot to the World Cup and hopefully we can prove that.”
Fielding has been a high point of the Netherlands, who are playing in their fourth World Cup. They will be relying on their star all-rounder, Ryan ten Doeschate, who stroked an impressive 119 against England. Bas Zuiderent, the star of the Netherlands’s 1996 campaign, will also be looking to come to the party.
“There’s no doubt that we rely on him (Ryan) to score runs, but we also have got some other talented players in the squad, guys who have the ability to make hundreds as Ryan did against England. It’s not always going to be him,” Borren said.
The two teams have never met in a World Cup. The only time they faced each other, thee West Indies dismissed Netherlands for 80 runs, beating them by 10 wickets in 14.3 overs in Dublin in 2007.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Devon Thomas (wicketkeeper), Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Andre Rusell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards
The Netherlands: Peter Borren (captain), Adeel Raja, Wesley Barresi (wicketkeeper), Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent.
Umpire: Amiesh Saheeba (India), Simon Taufel (Australia)
Third umpire: Richard Kettleborough (England)
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka).